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Monday, February 18, 2013

hanging of Veerappan aides stayed by Apex Court

After the high profile hanging of Kasab and Afzal Guru, another 4 were in line…….. Now there are reports that the Supreme Court has stayed the execution of  4 of Veerappan's aides till further orders. The four were awarded capital punishment in 2004 for a landmine blast in Karnataka that left 22 police personnel dead. The bench posted the matter for Wednesday. "In the meantime, the execution of death sentence of four convicts shall remain stayed," a bench comprising Chief Justice Altamas Kabir and justices A R Dave and Vikramajit Sen said.

Not many would understand its relevance….. one’s memory needs to go back atleast 10 years in recent history…..  Koose Muniswamy Veerappan Gounder the brigand known for his mush and commonly known as Sandalwood Veerappan was killed by Police in Oct 2004.  For decades, Veerappan had been active on the forest land defying the State Police forces of Karnataka, Kerala and Tamil Nadu.   Some reports state that he was wanted for killing approximately 184 people, mainly police officers (about 50% of total killings) including senior police and forest officials. He was wanted for poaching about 200 elephants and smuggling ivory and sandalwood worth many crores. Veerappan had a price of  5 crore on his head but evaded arrest for 20 years until he was killed by police in 2004.

Tinseldom cannot but glorify.  Vana Yuddham (Forest war) is a 2013 Tamil film directed by A. M. R. Ramesh, based on the forest brigand Veerappan. It is made as a bilingual, being simultaneously shot in Kannada as Attahasa. The movie released on 14th February 2013 with good reviews. As immediately as it was announced, the film ran into legal tangles.  Mysore based writer T. Gururaj, who wrote a book on the late forest brigand Veerappan, titled Rudhra Narthana, filed a complaint against filmmaker A.M.R. Ramesh, for using his content in the film without his permission.  Veerapan's wife Muthulakshmi also  filed a case seeking ban on the film stating that her husband has been portrayed in bad light.

Supreme Court of India intervened; Apex Court asked the producer of the Vana Yudham, to pay Rs. 25 lakh to Veerappan’s widow V. Muthulakshmi to arrive at a compromise to facilitate the release of the film later in the day.  It was reported that a  Bench of Justices T.S. Thakur and S.J. Mukhopadaya effected the compromise between counsel Sanjay Hegde (for Muthulakshmi) and K.K. Mani (for the producer), who informed the court that the matter had been amicably settled.

Recently, there was an article in The Hindu quoting Mr Gopalakrishnan, a former Superintendent of Police who led assault team of the STF targeted in the Palar landmine blast recalls the crime that claimed 22 lives.  Known as Palar blast case, it is the single highest casualty suffered during the two-decade long anti-Veerappan operations. Reports state that a 41 member team unaware of the booby-trapped landmines, walked into the trap.  They were in 2 vans and as they approached Sorekayimaduvu, the gang detonated landmines that flung the KSRP van into the air killing 22 persons on the spot. Many of those killed were blown into pieces. Two of those killed were Tamil Nadu forest staff.  Luckily for the cops, the vehicle which was following the KSRP van was out of the target zone when the landmines went off.  This Palar blast came after another ambush had left five including IPS officer T Harikrishna, the SP of Mysore, dead and injured 20 others at Meenyam on the eve of Independence Day in 1992. Years later, Mysore commemorated the services of the IPS officer by installing a bust of Harikrishna, who was 41 when he was killed.

While Simon, Gnanaprakash, Bilvendra and Meesekar Madaiah were held guilty in the Palar blast case by a special TADA court in Mysore in 2001, the Chamarajnagar district and sessions court on March 17, 2011, acquitted Muthulakshmi, wife of the slain brigand, in the Palar blast case owing to lack of evidence.  It is the mercy petition of these 4 that have been rejected by the President recently.  With the rejection, the four associates of the slain forest brigand Veerappan could be sent to the gallows within the next fortnight, top government officials had stated, which has now been put on hold till further order of the Apex Court

While the jail authorities closed all doors of official communication to the media, reliable sources said a message about the rejection of the mercy pleas reached them around 2.35 p.m. The sources said the jail authorities were holding a meeting and they had informed the families of the four in Tamil Nadu.

With regards – S. Sampathkumar.

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